Middle school students practicing meditation as part of a school Quiet Time program had significant improvements in social-emotional competencies and psychological distress, according to a new study published in Education.
"There's a strong body of research supporting the clear value of developing social-emotional competency for students. Middle school is an especially formative time and poses a major opportunity to provide students with the tools to develop positive social relationships, responsible decision-making, and healthy behaviors," commented Laurent Valosek, the study's lead author and Executive Director of the Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education. "We're encouraged by the results demonstrating the value of a Quiet Time program to enhance social-emotional learning and mental health in middle school students."
Effect of Meditation on Social-Emotional Learning of Public Middle School Students
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is gaining increased recognition as an important goal of education. Competencies include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and goal-directed behavior. Developing these skills may help students perform better academically and enjoy enhanced emotional and social well being.
A new controlled study published in Education compared over a four-month period 51 sixth-grade students who took part in a Quiet Time program with twice-daily practice of Transcendental Meditation to 50 students from a matched control school within the same West Coast urban public school district. The study found a significant increase in overall social-emotional competency in the Quiet Time group compared to controls. The effects were particularly pronounced with high-risk subgroups, which experienced a significant increase on social-emotional competency and a significant decrease on negative emotional symptoms compared to controls.
Results on the individual items indicate improvement in the Quiet Time group compared to controls in the areas of decision-making, goal-directed behavior, personal responsibility, relationship skills, and optimistic thinking.
The study used the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) Mini teacher-rating scale for assessing social-emotional competence. It also used the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) Emotional Symptoms scale. One strength of the study is its use of the DESSA to obtain a teacher rating of student social-emotional competencies, rather than relying solely on student self-report.
These results have implications for schools looking to implement evidence-based programs for student social-emotional learning and mental health.
Laurent Valosek, Sanford Nidich, Staci Wendt, Jamie Grant, Randi Nidich. Effect of Meditation on Social-Emotional Learning in Middle School Students. Education, Volume 139, Number 3, March 2019, pp. 111-119(9)
About the Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education
The Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education (CWAE) is a San Francisco Bay Area-based non-profit organization. CWAE's mission is to optimize educational performance, reduce violence, stress, and substance abuse, and improve the psychological wellness of students, faculty, and administrators by strengthening the underlying neurophysiology of perception, learning and behavior. CWAE serves more than 2,500 youth, teachers and administrators in the San Francisco Bay Area. Among the youth served, 98% are of color and 62% live in low-income homes. For more information, visit http://www.cwae.org.